Our tour to the Mekong Delta started shortly past 7am when we were picked up at the hotel and drove for about 2 hours to Ben Tre, a gateway to the delta.
We boarded a small boat and started our private sightseeing tour through the waterways of the Mekong Delta which literally means “Nine Dragon River Delta”. The delta encompasses the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of water channels. It is also known as the rice bowl of Vietnam because of its huge rice production of over 23 million tons of rice which is more than half of Vietnam’s total rice production. Besides this the delta is also well known as the most important fishing region and supplies the population with crops and fruits. Overall the delta plays a very important role in supplying Vietnam with food.
Our first stop was at a family owned brick-works. Here we got an insight how the bricks are formed and crafted from clay of the Mekong Delta.
The final product ready to be sold:
This machine is fed with clay from the top and spits out a continues brick-sausage which is manually cut into the single brick:
Then they are stored to dry:
The beehives in the back are huge furnaces (called kiln) in which the bricks are hardened at over 1000°C:
Once the bricks have been manually loaded into the kiln which can hold around 150’000 bricks, the furnace is fired up with husks of rice. The fire is kept going for 5 to 7 days and then left to cool for another 3 days:
Making sure the fire keeps burning in the kiln is lady work:
There is always time for a break between shoveling rice husks:
We boarded our boat and continued the trip upstream the river.
We passed by huge mountains of coconut shells:
And other boats:
Eventually we went ashore at one of the coconut processing plants and got to find out what the story behind those huge piles was.
Once the coconuts are harvested they are transported to the workshops along the river and unloaded:
Here they are processed by workers who make around 2 USD per day and who turn the raw coconut into oil, candy or woven mats:
Just watching them is already sweat braking!
The first workers remove the strawy outside by working the coconut on a knife mounted to a stake in the ground:
The two men then throw the inner part of the coconut to the women who slices off one end and drains the liquid:
Another guy scrapes the white flesh of the coconut out of the shell:
Women then clean this flesh from the brown outside skin:
Then the flesh is processed into slices:
Some of it is ground and processed to candy. First it is cooked with butter and other ingredients:
And then brought into shape, cooled and packed to little candy pieces:
At their shop they also offered us other sweets of which some were very delicious:
One specialty that Vietnamese men just love is snake and scorpion wine. Months of fermenting give it a special taste and the alcohol cancels out the poison. The wine is considered healthy and attributed to having many healthy benefits…
Of course they also offer colorful necklaces and bracelets for the non snake wine clients:
Back on the boat we enjoyed fresh coconut water. There is little that is so refreshing:
We passed by several more ships loaded either with coconuts or coconut peelings:
In the smaller water ways there were dozens of little fishing boats:
We just lay back and enjoyed the scenery and activities going on around us:
Close to a little village we left our river taxi and got to admire the local craftsmanship, products sold and everyday life:
It is an interesting feeling to drive along roads onto which bananas hang so low you can practically pick them from the tree:
Not quite yet orange season:
Papayas in abundance:
In one of the shops our guide took us to a place in the back and we could watch local women manufacture simple mats from reeds:
Tini got a chance to try herself in the art. While she caught up impressively fast on the technique it was still an order of magnitude slower than the women teaching her:
One women was very funny, because she nodded to Andy and stated that Tini would be a very good weaver 🙂
Childcare is done at the workplace as well:
We continued on by Tuctuc:
Passed a local temple:
And boarded a smaller boat which brought us out to the big river cruise ship:
It is hard not to let the contrasts get to you when you see these people living off so little.
Only few meters further we were welcomed to an entire ship we only shared with one other couple.
We got to enjoy a spectacular Vietnamese cooking show by a chef-cook and an extremely charming English translator:
But see for yourself. The ingredients:
While the chef would do the work, she would explain the steps:
And in the end give her personal critics to how it turned out. And then the chef would try to repeat what she had said in English 🙂
It was not only funny. It was sooo delicious:
Next lesson was on decoration:
After our lessons we got to relax on the upper deck and enjoy the cool breeze. We passed dozens of transport boats like this one which were loaded to the rim:
And after a short break on deck we got served an amazing meal prepared by the chef we had taken lessons from before. We started with a banana flower salad with chicken
Followed by a sweet and sour soup:
And a Bassa caramel:
Steamed rice and fresh market vegetables:
And finally a Mekong fresh fruit plate:
After another hour of boat ride towards Ben Tre we disembarked and said goodbye to the amazingly friendly crew:
Stuffed to the rim with delicious food and incredible impressions we headed back to Ho Chi Minh City.This entry was posted in Asia, WorldMap